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diate occasion to the writing of many books, in successive periods of the Church's history, than this Epistle. It has been the favorite theme of theologians and commentators, who have drawn from it satisfaction for their mental activity and support for whatever peculiar views of truth they have adopted. That the work is still going forward, and is not likely to cease, is evidenced by the fact that, within the last few months, at least four new commentaries have appeared before the American public, from authors of three different nationalities and four different modes of thinking. The reader who has familiarized himself with the literature within this field will find as clear proof, also, of what the New Testament writer said, as he does with reference to the saying of his predecessor in the earlier time. Nor will he question the special appropriateness of the writer's words as bearing upon this one of the Pauline Epistles, as compared with any others. Indeed he will be disposed to say, in the discussion as to whether "Second" Peter was the same person with "First" Peter, that the indication of apostolic wisdom, which the First possessed, would be even more manifest in the Second, if he had substituted for the words unlearned and unstable the same words without the negative syllable. Commentaries are the works of learned men, or at least they claim to be; and many of them are the productions of those whose "stability" in theological matters is their most striking characteristic. But that their authors have wrested the meaning of the Apostle Paul, in greater or less degree, is shown-to say nothing of any other proofs-by the examination of the two volumes. whose titles are given in our foot-note. If either of these volumes presents the correct view of the Pauline truths, the other in some places has wandered into error, or has been entangled in false interpretations. We have sometimes wondered what the Apostle himself would have thought of the meaning of his own words, if he could have read all the annotations which have been made upon them.
The two volumes now before us are the works of able men. The one which comes from the American press is by a distinguished author, whose reputation is very widely extended throughout the country, and whose stability in theological doctrine is well known. When it was first announced that Dr. Shedd was about to publish a commentary on this Epistle, it was anticipated that St. Paul would appear as the authority for his peculiar theological views. Mr. Beet, on the other hand, is comparatively unknown
among us, but his scholarly powers are manifest to his readers, and his exposition of the Apostle's thought may be understood by his English brethren to be equally in accordance with opinions which he distinctively holds. The student who uses the two books, and yet maintains his independence of both of them, will find them helpful and stimulating. But if he reads them in connection with all the other works on this Epistle which have recently been published, he will learn that there is a place left for his own investigations, and that, amid conflicting views, he must seek for the truth himself.
Dr. Shedd's book is characteristic of himself. It is very clear and very concise in its style, thoroughly doctrinal in its interpretations, with many evidences of its author's wide reading, and everywhere full of confidence that the Apostle and his commentator have thought alike. It is, doubtless, a result of his exegetical studies while he held a professorship of New Testament Greek, and it displays ability in the line of those studies. But Dr. Shedd's especial power as well as his taste, as we suppose all his admirers and himself also will agree, is in the department of Systematic Theology. And we think it would have been scarcely possible for him to approach the Epistle to the Romans, except from the standpoint of a doctrinal theologian. We are not surprised, therefore, to find him saying in his preface, that the Epistle is an inspired system of theology." To our view this is exactly what the Epistle is not, and, if we mistake not, exegetical scholars are becoming more and more convinced that it is not. The errors of interpretation, in times past, have arisen largely from this misapprehension of the object and character of the Epistle, and they are not likely to cease with a writer who holds, that the purpose of Paul was to give to the Roman congregation and ultimately to Christendom a complete statement of religious truth." It is because they are prone, by reason of their constant effort to systematize theology-which is the work appointed for them, to think that the sacred writers sought every where after "complete statements" of this kind, that, in our judgment, doctrinal theologians, however learned, are often disqualified from being the best exegetes. They approach the Biblical writings from the wrong side, and are continually liable to be affected by their preconceived views. Dr. Shedd has presented, with as great ability as any one is likely to do, an explanation of St. Paul's teaching which makes it accord with his own doctrine.
His book may be commended on this account to students who desire to examine the Epistle in this light. But the doctrine, so far as its distinctive peculiarities are concerned, is not, we are confident, the Pauline doctrine, and no correct interpretation can make it so.
Mr. Beet's volume may well be examined in connection with Dr. Shedd's with reference to its doctrinal positions; as, for example, in what is said on the subject of election in the eighth and ninth chapters and perseverance in the ele enth chapter. His work is marked by a most careful attempt to trace out the arguments of the Apostle, and his teaching. He holds that the Epistle is "an outline and authoritative standard" of this teaching, and that it "was written, without any such definite occasion as led to the composition of the other Epistles, for the purpose of asserting and logically developing the new doctrines" as Paul preached them. “It is,” he says, "the Gospel according to Paul." If by this is to be understood the Pauline doctrine, as contrasted with the teaching of the Judaistic party, we would accept his statement. This was what Paul himself meant when he spo' e of his go-pel, and what his commentators as we believe ought to mean. To our view the Apostle has in this Epistle a single purpose, which he follows as strictly as any writer has ever done, not turning aside for a moment until he reaches the close of his doctrinal section. His work has, in the truest sense, a beginning, a middle, and an end, and its unity is most marked and manifest because it is the unity of one great thought. He was writing at a time when the mind of the Church was occupied with an all-important question, Whether salvation is by faith or by works. This question was a most vital one to himself, and until it was settled the truth was not secured. He had recently been excited to deepest interest in this matter, and aroused to a vehement argument respecting it, by the tidings brought to him from Galatia. His converts there, as he learned, were coming most dangerously under the influence of Judaising teachers, who were attempting to lead them to accept the legal system in its largest extent. No subject either political or theological has awakened within the past generation, as we may believe, greater attention or interest than this one was then exciting. None, certainly, has been more intimately connected with the very foundations of truth. The existence of this question, and the effect which it had had in different churches, constituted an "occasion" for writing upon it to the Roman church. By a dis
cussion of it the Apostle could, in the best way, accomplish the end of "establishing" the members of that church, which was the very reason of his earnest desire to visit them in person. What he would have done, could he have been with them, he would now do by a letter. He would show them that salvation is by faith; that this is the good news brought by Christ to the world. To prove this by arguments, both general and Scriptural; to defend it against the great objection that, inasmuch as it was a system of free forgiveness, it might lead to indulgence in sin; and to show that it, in no proper sense, contradicted the promises of God as given to Abraham and his seed, was the thing which he attempted. He had no thought beyond this, and no idea of bringing out a system of theology." His epistle is not a treatise but a letter,— a letter full of one thing, and to be interpreted accordingly. Original sin and election and perseverance were not in his mind as subjects of chief discussion. They were only, if at all, before his thought as most incidental things in the progress of his argument, and in illustration of some minor points. And hence the doctrine with regard to these subjects is not systematically developed. St. Paul was not a Professor of Doctrinal Theology. He was rather like an earnest pastor writing to his own individual church, for whose members he had labored and prayed and in whose conversion he had rejoiced, with reference to the one great fundamental truth of Christianity which was endangered in a violent controversy. His letter must be interpreted accordingly, if his meaning and purpose are to be understood. And when we thus interpret it, his incidental statements involving certain doctrines, like those mentioned above, will be explained in the most healthful and Pauline way. We shall cease to find an entire doctrine, affecting our beliefs with regard to the sin of our entire race, made to rest upon a strict and most literal interpretation of a single aorist tense, in a passage in which the Apostle's mind was so far from dwelling upon this doctrine, that he was only breaking out into an exclamation of joy at the universal provision of salvation through Christ-universal for Jews and Gentiles alike; not limited, as by the law, to those possessed of the law.
The limits of a brief notice will not allow us to make a citation of passages from these volumes. It may be of interest to remark, however, that Mr. Beet, like Meyer and some other commentators, regards the death alluded to in Rom. v. 12-19, as being physical death only; that he does not consider infants as alluded
to at all in the passage; and that he holds the expression "all men" in the two parts of the 18th verse to be used in the universal sense. He says that to understand all men, in the second case, as meaning less than in the first, is "a perversion of the plain meaning of plain words which would not be tolerated in the interpretation of any document except the Bible. To understand thus the speech of living men would destroy the definiteness of language, and thus destroy its worth as a vehicle of human thought." Dr. Shedd, on the other hand, holds an opposite view on all these points. He says, indeed, "It is incontestable that infants are a part of the all of verse 12." We may also state, that, in their interpretation of Rom. ix. 5, the two writers, though both holding the doctrine of the divinity of Christ, take opposite views as to the question of applying the last clause to him. Mr. Beet considers the weight of argument to be in favor of the explanation of the words as a doxology to God, while Dr. Shedd would refer them to Christ. It is noticeable, however, that the latter writer does not take the decided position which has been held by many, as if the reference to Christ were the only possible one. The discussion of this passage is somewhat more full in Mr. Beet's volume, but, in both alike, space is given only for a brief presentation of the more important points of the argument.
We close by saying again that both of these volumes will be valued by the student who uses them, and who desires to gain a complete view of what has been said by men of all shades of opinion upon the Epistle to the Romans. Being examined in connection with other commentaries of equal ability and written from other points of view, they will help toward the true understanding of the Apostle's thought.
FARRAR'S LIFE OF ST. PAUL.*-Dr. Farrar is becoming one of the best known among our people of the recent English writers on subjects connected with the Bible. His Life of Christ, published five years ago, has had a very wide circulation in this country, and has met a most favorable reception. By reason of a certain good fortune, which occasionally attends a book in some unaccountable way, this work has been sold and read more extensively than most of its contemporaries of equal value. The reputation which has been created for its author and itself will win
* The Life and Work of St. Paul. By F. W. FARRAR, D.D., F.R.S., late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; Canon of Westminster, and Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. Two volumes, 1879.